COVID-19 Effects on Technology and Business

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A Quick History

In January of 2020, the Chinese authorities sounded the alarm to the public of a new kind of virus, which can cause deadly pneumonia, COVID-19. The virus has now spread to almost every country around the world, despite efforts to stop it. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has negatively affected the entire globe. Based on a report by the World Bank, the global economy is expected to decline by 5.2% in 2020 due to restricted mobility and spending [1]. While the regional impact may vary based on where the pandemic has been the most severe, the socio-economic quality in these areas is going to be affected permanently. While waiting for normalcy, people are discovering a new sense of purpose and meaning with technologies, and in some cases leveraging technological adoptions for good. While a vaccine sounds like the only best way to get out of this global crisis, it is not yet clear when that time will come. Containment will depend on people learning to change their behavior for businesses and governments preparing for post-lockdown[2]. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed several industry trends that tackle short-term and long-term implications from the global crisis.

The world has evolved dramatically over the response of the pandemic. Institutions and businesses are relying on virtual communication as a way of continuity in their operations. In the space of medical technology, healthcare and the combination of different technology applications are being developed to provide more efficient and effective healthcare.

One thing to consider in this discussion is that the data presented are always changing rapidly as conditions change. The world is in a fast-moving situation with the coronavirus, the information presented in this discussion only accounts to the available data during the time of creation. If the pandemic continues to spread for several months, some of the information discussed may be different as global conditions change and will be added accordingly.

Impact in the Digital Age

Almost every sector that is greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is now relying on virtual communication to continue its operations. For instance, schools with technological capacity are continuing studies through online learning. In contrast, poorer regions are suffering from a wider educational gap due to the postponement of returning to school.

Despite the inequality, internet usage has seen a dramatic surge, as countries around the world implemented lockdown orders and people staying at home more. Based on a dossier from Statista, e-commerce, media platforms, and online delivery services have seen an increase in internet traffic during March of 2020. Whereas, other industries’ webpages have seen a decline in traffic. This trend may be due to the change of consumer behavior from the pandemic such as declining financial conditions. With the rise of internet usage, it goes to show how interconnectivity over the internet is seen as a crucial function of society when moving around is prohibited [3].

Impact on Online Traffic from COVID-19 [3]

The Influence on Technology

Gartner's Hype Cycle Diagram [4]

The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to an evolution of technologies. The adoption curve gives an overview of this understanding by presenting information about a technology’s development or role in a domain over time. COVID-19 has sparked a lot of interest in new technologies that nobody thought would be viable if the pandemic had not occurred. The pandemic caused a technology trigger that enabled these technological applications to have mainstream adoption [5]. However, the use of some of these technologies will only be temporary like online learning and remote working in certain services. Whereas, some technologies will be expected to be permanent in areas such as telehealth, AI, and robotics advancements [6]. What is clear now is that this pandemic is forcing us to rethink our processes with digital technologies in mind.

Businesses and organizations are adopting these technologies as a continuity strategy to stay afloat in the market amid the pandemic. Furthermore, these adoptions will be a way to modernize their operations and address the heightened safety concerns.

This wiki covers a broad general trend about digital technologies that are being utilized in businesses, education, healthcare, and in our personal lives amidst the ongoing pandemic. One way or another, we are transforming into the digital era now more than ever.


Since the start of the pandemic, technology has been utilized to efficiently and effectively help patients and hospitals. Below are the emerging trends and technologies used to improve the healthcare industry in the long-term.


Benefits of Using AI and Robots in Healthcare [7]

The use of technology and AI has led to healthcare robots playing an increasing role in healthcare with many benefits to offer as seen in the picture on the right [8]. In 2017, the global healthcare robotics market was valued at $5.4 billion and is estimated to reach $11.44 billion by 2025 [9].

Types of Healthcare Robots Being Used to Help with COVID-19

1. “Germ Killing” Robots

These robots use UV lights to clean and disinfect areas in the hospital to kill pathogens and other deadly microorganisms, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 [10]. The robots are used to reduce the risk of infection and to keep everyone in the hospital safe [10]. They are currently being used at the Royal Columbian Hospital in B.C. [10]

2. Exoskeletons

Exoskeletons help the physical rehabilitation of patients who are recovering from lower limb disorders [11].They are being used in ICU’s to help with the prone positioning procedure, which can be complex, time-consuming, and stressful for staff, especially during COVID-19 [12]. JAMA Internal Medicine conducted a study that suggests that more than 40% of individuals hospitalized for COVID-19 developed ARDS, a severe lung condition [13]. As a result, exoskeletons are crucial to help with the prone positioning procedure for severe ARDS patients associated with COVID-19 [12]. One study carried out at the Hospital Simulation Center of the University of Lorraine showed that using an exoskeleton could be helpful and feasible for medical staff during COVID-19 [12].

3. Socially Assistive Robots

These robots can interact with people, accomplish health care tasks, and offer emotional support [14]Jeffrey Krichmar, a professor at the University of California is confident that assistive robots in the future will play a larger role during crises like COVID-19 [14]. He says that these robots can allow children or adults who are homebound a chance to engage in school or workplace activities [14]. The robots would be physically located in the classroom or office and connect with users virtually, giving them a sense of being on-site.

3. Vaccine Development

Automation, along with AI and machine learning are aiding scientists in the race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. Generally, it takes 10 years and up to $2.6 billion to develop a new drug. Based on Eroom’s law, it describes the increasing time and cost in order to discover a new drug from historical data[15]. Although, the advancements in automation and data science could change the trend.
One of the companies developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is AstraZeneca, a British biopharmaceutical company. They are utilizing automation and data science to speed up the development of their medical solutions. With robotics, these companies can deploy a large number of experimental modules with each robotic arm handling many samples. These modular units run thousands of experiments concurrently with other robotic units to reduce the time to design and produce the drug. A shorter time frame of development and production of a vaccine is critical to protect the vulnerable groups and prevent additional deaths from the virus[16].
  • Inside the Lab Where Robots Run Their Own Experiments[17]
  • AI Robot That Can Help Scientist Develop a Vaccine [18]


Telehealth is the use of technology to access health care services to manage one’s health care virtually [19]. Telehealth is being used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, provide patients care from the safety of their homes, and help reduce the use of personal protective equipment for medical staff on the front lines [20]. Frost & Sullivan's recent analysis finds that the demand for telehealth technology is expected to rise because of COVID-19. The telehealth market in the United States (US) is likely to experience a year-over-year increase of 64.3% and a seven-fold growth by 2025 [21]. Currently, 20% of all Medicare, Medicaid, Commercial OP, office and home health spend can potentially be virtualized. The three models below show how telehealth can be used to effectively provide virtual care to help consumers[22].

Three Models to Maximize Telehealth

1. On-demand virtual urgent care

Emergency hospital visits and after-hours consultations are the most common reasons why consumers use telehealth today [22]. With on-demand virtual care, consumers can remotely address urgent concerns online and save a trip to the hospital[22].

2. Near-virtual office visits

This would allow patients to easily access healthcare by integrating virtual consultations and “near home” clinics for testing [22]. For instance, patients with COVID-like symptoms can first consult with a doctor online. Afterward, they can go to a closeby clinic for some tests and then follow-up with a virtual check-in with a doctor [22].

3.Tech-enabled home medication administration

This would allow patients to receive treatment from home instead of going to hospitals or clinics [22]. This can happen by remotely monitoring patients and giving them the tools, training, and education they need to monitor themselves [22]. Another aspect is for healthcare professionals to supervise patients from the comfort of their home [22]. For instance, a cardiologist can supervise a nurse delivering chemotherapy and monitor patients for any side effects [22].


Benefit of Wearable Technology in Healthcare [23]

Wearables are smart electronic devices that are incorporated into items that can be easily and comfortably worn on the body [24]. These devices are used to track and analyze real-time information from your body [24].
Wearables have been an increasing trend to help healthcare workers monitor and track patient’s health remotely. There are many benefits to wearable technology as seen in the image on the right [25]. One of the main advantages is that doctors can save 15 hours per week if their patients use wearable technology [26].

By the end of 2020, there is a prediction that usage of wearable technology will increase from 3 million to 3.8 million users in the United States [27]. From a business perspective there will be a growth in revenue from 7.1% to 31.8% in 2020 [27] . After 2020, the total installed base of fitness tracker and health-based wearables in the US is expected to grow at an annual rate of 10% to surpass 120 million by 2023 [26].

Examples of Wearables Being Used in Hospitals

1. VivaLNK - Temperature Patches

These temperature patches allow health care professionals to continuously monitor the temperature changes of the patients remotely [28]. This replaces physical examination of the patient’s temperature and eliminates the use of mercury thermometers [28]. As well, it helps prevent cross-infection at the hospital and helps staff be instantly alerted based on trends and thresholds [28]. To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals, these wearables are currently being used by the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and in four other hospitals in China [29].

2. PMD Solutions – Respirasense

Respirasense helps measure the respiratory rate of patients and notifies health care professionals of accurate and real-time respiratory data remotely [30]. As well, it has been proven through Danish studies that Respirasense can help detect early deterioration from pulmonary edema than the regular standard of care [30].This technology allows healthcare professionals to accurately and quickly treat patients [30]. As a result, Respirasense is currently being used at hospitals in Canada, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, and Dublin [31].

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology by which computer-aided stimuli create the immersive illusion of being at another location [32]. The utilization of VR in the medical sector has been effective for filling in the gaps for medical training for healthcare workers during the pandemic. Practitioners and medical professionals alike are using VR simulations to learn about [33]:

  • Crisis Resource Management and Communication
  • Methodology on how to assess patient symptoms or perform CPR while wearing protective care
  • How to correctly put on and take off protective equipment
  • New COVID-19 guidelines and protocols

Beyond the simulations, healthcare instructors have the ability to observe the trainees thinking process. Through observation, subjective data like communication, teamwork and decision-making under pressure can be measured, quantified and validated objectively to provide practitioners better insights on how prepared their workforce really is for the given scenarios [34].

Adjacent to COVID-19, many non-essential surgeries like knee and hip replacements are on hold during the pandemic. However, with VR, residents will soon be able to practice doing surgeries using a cutting-edge VR program at Burnaby General Hospital [35]. The technology emulates an actual operating room with tools, including hand-held virtual reality paddles to perform surgery on virtual patients and the ability to provide feedback during or after the simulation [35]. Feedback will tell the resident if the retractor is placed in the wrong position or if certain mistakes were made [35]. The deployment of 5G technology will also further advance this kind of procedure by eliminating the lag time - a delay which can be fatal in delicate surgeries by establishing a faster connection [36].

Post-COVID-19 (Future)

The world is playing out into three waves of impact: the Now, the Next and the Never Normal [37]. The healthcare industry has been shaken into a new era of marrying digital-physical care. The quick alignment of healthcare technology to create fast, effective ways to treat and monitor the pandemic, will have everlasting impacts on how we utilize future healthcare technology. Healthcare organizations will see three key shifts in how the industry deliver value [38].

1. New paradigms for infrastructure, geographic distribution of providers, and care settings
2. Operational excellence, which will be critical in the next normal
3. Emergence of new growth opportunities and diversification

Established norms and operational best practices are being revisited [38]. Previously, the healthcare system has been slow to adopt modern collaboration tools to help with data sharing and interoperability between organizations [37]. The industry can expect a significant shift in collaboration with the dissemination of 5G. With the growth of 5G, healthcare will gain an edge through this vertical integration of the technology with the following benefits [36]:

  • Bigger "tele-presence" in hospital facilities
  • Significantly bigger volumes of data being processed at faster speeds
  • More medical devices being connected together to provide physicians a better overview of the patient's conditions and allows for robotic surgery

This will increase the number of data points, thus, becoming available to different healthcare systems globally [39]. With more data being received, artificial intelligence will be able to decipher more information to guide diagnosis and treatment. [40]


Architecture of an IIOT [41]

The pandemic has propelled our global economy to make unprecedented decisions to protect the livelihoods of millions of workers. For the purpose of containing the virus, businesses and the government have made drastic measures to close non-essential businesses. Consequently, workers were furloughed, causing unemployment to rise. Additionally, the Coronavirus has left industrial shocks from both the supply and demand side, leading to a significant reduction in production volumes or dismally halting operations completely[42].

In order to consider the key factors from manufacturers and the addressed challenges caused by the pandemic, this requires us to think of future strategic initiatives in the short-term and long-term. Key factors such as, market changes and the economic impact from COVID-19, must be considered to effectively plan and redesign processes in the manufacturing sector. Numerous companies have already deployed cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics before the pandemic started to support their business operations more effectively.

In the manufacturing industry, IIOT introduces sensors and instruments to create a networked facility that transmits data to computers with industrial software to collect, analyze, and exchange data. This will facilitate a higher degree of productivity and efficiency in the factory. The IIOT revolution was made possible through the introduction of other technologies such as Cloud Computing, Edge Computing, and Artificial Intelligence. There are other technologies involved but these are the important ones described below:

  • Cloud Computing: The “cloud” is characterized as a group of networks, storage, hardware, and interfaces that are combined to deliver client computing as a service. This eliminates the physical storage and computing space in existing on-premise servers and allows businesses to share and access data from anywhere.
  • Edge Computing: According to Gartner’s definition of Edge computing, “Edge computing represents an emerging topology-based computing model that enables and optimizes extreme decentralization, placing nodes as close as possible to the sources and sinks of data and content.”[43]. Using this digital tool addresses some of the limitations of cloud computing and enables real-time analytics, which is valuable for the manufacturing industry to develop early response alert systems in a case if a worker is tested positive.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is the development of intelligent computers to think like humans through the presentation of data, they can interpret and understand information. AI has been part of the reason for other technological advancements such as robotics, autonomous driving, and revolutionizing IIOT since AI serves as a major component in these technologies[44].

The future for manufacturing in post-COVID expects a continued focus on digitization and data science, nevertheless, manufacturing in a safe environment will remain a pertinent challenge globally. However, for some companies that have not fully embraced digital technologies, they are forced to rethink their business models and transform the workplace to meet business expectations and safety standards[45].

Keeping People Safe with Smart Camera (Intelligent Vision Sensor)

Features of a Smart Camera [46]

To contain the spread of the virus in manufacturing facilities, companies are deploying social-distancing requirements.

In May of 2020, Sony unveiled its first AI image sensor, which streamlines vision computing for machine learning computers. The application would enable computers to identify people and objects in the picture, which helps developers design apps that utilize this information. For instance, for occupational safety, the smart camera can detect a person who is not wearing a mask by loading an algorithm that allows the camera to send yes or no pings to the system. Other utilization includes industrial automation that allows robots to perform closer-proximity tasks due to their added depth of perception capabilities[47].

While the potential of applications of these smart cameras sounds promising, issues still exist. For example, Sony’s sensor is not yet capable of handling the large data-loads needed in some of the present functionality necessary to address today’s challenges. A prime example is Amazon Go (pun-intended), which is a cashier-less store that uses AI-enabled cameras to track shopping activities on the premises. For now, Sony’s sensor can perform much simpler tasks. Nonetheless, Sony’s technology reveals how data could be potentially processed in the future. Based on previous technologies, the camera sends information to computers, whereas Sony revealed that the camera can be the computer itself to perform computational tasks.The business value here is the ability to offer streamlined solutions to current processes and a layer of redundancy if the unit disconnects from the network.

Digital Twins on Food Safety

Digital Twin and Flexible Food Production [48]

Digital twin technologies work in synergy with IoT devices. Both technologies are being utilized by many industrial companies to reduce their operational cost and reduce downtimes[49]. The growing need for predictive analytics amid the global pandemic is supporting growth in the digital twin market.

A digital twin is a digital counterpart of a physical asset, process, or system. Manufacturers who have a greater ability for digital platform integration have the opportunity to reap the benefits of digital twins through greater accessibility of data and analytical capabilities. The business value of digital twins during this pandemic is demonstrated through its ability to provide real-time information from the data it collects compared to its static counterpart. This information allows manufacturers to react and make changes based on market conditions, which mitigates the effects of COVID-19 by making the future more foreseeable [50].

Back in November 2016, Siemens along with other companies and research institutes were gathered by the European Union to improve food production and promote a more sustainable, yet transparent method. Siemens offers solutions that focus on digitization and automation, and in this project, it uses its MindSphere solutions to offer a path-tracing function of a product in the food supply network. Siemens made this possible by creating a digital twin for food products, which will offer both the producer and consumer a level of trust concerning their food. This is done by tracing and documenting the production chain to detect any problems more rapidly.


Robotics has grown to become more sophisticated and has gained a wider acceptance in the manufacturing industry. For other organizations, embracing automation is an essential feat because of the pandemic. Utilizing robotics has become a means to enforce social distancing and reduce the level of contamination that comes from human contact. A recent example is FedEx’s new adoption with robotic technologies. The logistics company installed robotic arms in its Memphis facility to sort massive amounts of parcels through the warehouse[51]. Currently, in terms of speed, these robotic arms are capable of operating half of the volume of what a human would be able to process. However, since these robotics are able to operate 24/7, they are more efficient overall. Albeit would still require a human technician to oversight any technical issues during operations. With the ongoing health crisis, additional automation seems necessary for the company to eliminate the risk of workers and customers of FedEx.

With further development in AI, Machine Learning, Automation, Cloud Computing, and now with recent developments of Edge Computing, these technologies will further advance the growth and efficiency of robotics and add more value in assisting the manufacturing industry.

Fedex Robotic Arm in their Memphis facility [52]


Current Situation

COVID-19 has impacted the public transportation sector all over the world. In Asia, there was about a 33% decrease in the usage of public transport in Seoul, South Korea in March 2020 [53]. In Europe, only 18.2% of respondents who often chose public transport before intended to continue choosing public transport [54]. In North America, 57% of respondents said that they would much less likely use public transport if their communities were infected [55]. In Latin America, the demand for public transportation was reduced by 72% in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil [56].

In terms of the airline industry, for the week of August 3, 2020, the global weekly flight frequency was decreased by 47.9% compared to the week of August 5, 2019 [57]. Although the decrease has slowed down as more countries have begun to reopen the economy, the airline industry still needs a long period of time to recover due to the economic recession, passengers’ safety concerns, and travel restrictions.

As COVID-19 cases are continuously increasing worldwide, the transportation industry is facing huge uncertainty in terms of its future operation and development. Thus, there is a growing need for different sectors in the transportation industry to adopt various technologies to help them find a “new normal” during this global pandemic.

Thermal Screening

Thermal imaging system setup to measure the body temperature of individual people in a public area [58]

Thermal screening is a process of using thermal imaging systems to screen people who may have a high body temperature. The system usually includes a temperature reference source and a thermographic camera that can detect radiation emitted by people and then produce images of such radiation in real-time [58].

Under the situation of COVID-19, thermal imaging systems are being used for initial temperature screening in airports with three potential benefits [58]:

1. Temperature taken while maintaining social distance

The person who handles the thermal imaging system does not need to be physically close to the person being screened for elevated body temperature.

2. Quicker measurement of temperature

If there are many people waiting to take their temperature before they go into the airport, faster speed may minimize the wait time while keeping track of everyone’s body temperature.

3. Accurate temperature readings

The system can measure surface skin temperature accurately if used properly. The ideal environment to set up thermal imaging systems as follows [58]:
  • Temperature: 20 °C to 24 °C
  • Relative humidity: 10% to 50%
  • No reflective backgrounds
  • No strong lighting
  • No draft, direct sunlight and radiant heat in the environment

However, some limitations are as follows [58]:

1. Not effective when being used for “mass fever screening”

Although the system could be used for initial temperature assessment to screen people in airports, the system has not been proved to be effective when being used to take the temperature of multiple people simultaneously.

2. Not effective if not adjusting properly

The system measures surface skin temperature, which is usually lower than oral temperature. The system must be adjusted properly by using the correct measurement standard to accurately screen out people who have a fever.

Self-Service Kiosks

Instructions for contactless kiosks from AirAsia [59]

Before the COVID-19 situation, self-serving kiosks were beginning to get recognition. Fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Burger King were implementing them into their business processes [60] . As we progress through the second phase of this pandemic, many industries have begun integrating kiosks into their systems as well. Kiosks are essentially stand-alone booths that are placed in population dense locations[61] . These machines run on minimalistic hardware configuration and can be operated by a worker or be used via self-service [62] . The technology can be programmed to perform specific processes or allow users to access the internet. Kiosks can be categorized into one of the following categories [62] :

1. Self-Service Kiosks

These machines are constructed for the purpose of fulfilling business processes. They can replace services that are normally handled by humans. Some examples of self-service kiosks can be found in banks and health clinics. Banks have ATMs and allow users to withdraw or deposit money. Health clinics have kiosks that let patients check into the system.

2. Information Kiosks

Information kiosks are designed to give information regarding products and services. Thus, a simple and easy to use interface is required. These kiosks can be found in numerous places such as: shopping malls, showrooms, public waiting areas, and tourist locations.

3. Digital Advertising

This alternative is used in order to draw attention and promote designated goods and services. There are two types of digital advertising kiosks. The basic type is passive and only displays advertisements. The interactive type allows consumer engagement and can utilize machine learning. Companies are able to deliver personalized content or gather statistical data from viewers.

4. Wayfinding Kiosks

This variation’s primary function is to help people in navigating around an area. With its built-in geo-location, the kiosk detects nearby objects and generates a pathway to a designated location. These can operate in both outdoor and indoor environments, due to the use of wireless networks, the internet of things, and satellites.

5. Internet Kiosks

These kiosks are used to access the internet. Users either exchange personal information or provide a payment to gain accessibility.

Why Has This Technology Seen Increased Usage During COVID-19?

Since kiosks have the ability to replace processes that require human input, it is safer to make use of this technology than to interact with humans. By eliminating human interaction, social distancing is not an issue and spreading the virus is less likely [63] . In addition, consumers do not have to wear a face mask during the interaction. Furthermore, consumers have a sense of control when operating a kiosk. If the kiosk requires physical contact, users could clean the screen with an alcohol wipe before using it [64] .

Airline Industry, Kiosks, and COVID-19

Elenium's touch-less self-service kiosk [65]

During this pandemic, airline companies have been capitalizing on kiosks. Kiosks are used to automate processes and enable transactions without needing human assistance in order to maintain a social distance. Some companies such as AirAsia and Avalon Airport have installed self-serving kiosks that are touch-free. In AirAsia’s scenario, passengers can print their boarding pass and baggage tag after checking-in online on the website or through the mobile app, ensuring a full contact-less check-in process [59].

Avalon Airport followed a similar approach, but decided to go the extra step. They collaborated with Elenium Automation to create a kiosk that is hands-free and accessible to all passengers, regardless of ability and age [66]. If a traveler has a physical disability, kiosk selections could be made through head movement and voice automation. Even if an airport is noisy, the kiosk will be able to accurately receive voice commands by using proximity sensors, facial recognition, cameras, and microphones. After focusing its camera on an individual’s lips, multiple microphones will be used to dissociate the speaker’s voice from the background noise to produce a clear voice capture [67]. In addition, these kiosks can measure passengers’ vital signs including their temperature, respiratory and heart rate [68]. If a passenger's vital signs indicate potential symptoms of illness, the self-service will be suspended and a qualified staff will be alerted for further assessment [69]. Lastly, passports can be scanned by holding them in front of a camera, instead of inserting it into a passport slot. This will reduce the possibility of spreading the virus between travellers using the same device [68].

HEPA Filters

High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters can remove at least 99.9%, or more specifically, 99.97% according to the US standard [70], of particulates such as viruses and bacteria before the air is recirculated back to the cabin to ensure cabin air cleanliness. During COVID-19, passengers are wary of taking flights due to possible concerns such as, sitting close to one another in the enclosed cabin. Boeing announced the “Confident Travel Initiative” to search for new solutions to minimize health risks during air travel in order to drive awareness towards the health safeguards that are already in place [71]. HEPA filter was mentioned as one of the safeguards implemented in all Boeing airplanes to protect passengers from getting infected.

Workflow of HEPA Filter in the Airplane

According to Japan Airlines’ description [72], first, external air goes into the plane through the engine. For Boeing 787, external air can even be directly fed into its air-conditioning system by using electric compressors, without going through the engine. Second, the air-conditioning system adjusts the temperature of compressed air and supplies the air throughout the cabin. Third, the differential pressure will push the air inside the cabin towards the belly of the aircraft, and part of the air is discharged from the cabin pressure control valve. Fourth, the rest of the air flows back to the air-conditioning system through the HEPA filter, making the recirculated air clean and sterile.

Flow of the air using HEPA filter [72]


HEPA filters will continuously serve as an essential sanitizing method to ensure passenger safety inside the cabin. Compared to horizontal flow, the vertical top-down flow of the air in the cabin may limit the spread of virus to a few rows rather than the entire plane. However, for those specific few rows, the chance of getting COVID-19 still exists. Additionally, although the air is completely refreshed every two to three minutes [72], viruses may still be able to spread within this time period. Therefore, at the current stage, wearing a face covering is currently the best way to prevent people from spreading or getting the virus in the plane.

Autonomous Vehicles

Neolix's autonomous vehicle was used to disinfect streets in China [73]

Delivering food and medical supplies to infected areas may be a concern for people due to potential risks of getting the virus. Autonomous vehicles can help people solve this problem. By using autonomous vehicles, it can significantly improve social distancing measures and save manpower due to the vehicles’ relatively larger payload capacity. In addition, vehicles can be used to disinfect streets to reduce the potential risk of the spread. Autonomous vehicles can achieve a balance between convenience and usability to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of performing necessary short-distance deliveries and disinfecting tasks during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Neolix is an autonomous vehicle with a 2.4 cubic metre payload capacity, 50km/h speed limit, approximately 100km total range, and Level 4 autonomous driving ability where vehicles do not require human interaction in most circumstances [74]. Neolix can handle different tasks because its container uses modular design and is independent from the chassis of the vehicle. Therefore, one vehicle can be used for multiple purposes, such as food delivery and street disinfection, by easily adding and replacing different containers. Moreover, the battery of Neolix can be swapped out in 30 seconds without any tools, then another battery can be swapped in to support full-day operation [74].

What's Next?

In the foreseeable future, the transportation industry may recover slowly as long as preventative measures are being implemented by local governments. These measures include frequent sanitization, mandatory social distancing and face coverings, and less strict travel restrictions. Moreover, with the support of various technologies, businesses in the transportation industry could quickly adapt to the “new normal” by finding a balance between mobility and public safety.


COVID-19’s impact on global education[75]

The pandemic has caused thousands of school closures, which has impacted 1.38 billion students around the globe[75]. Until recently, only a small portion of schools have reopened. While some people have moved into online learning, it begs the question of how the pandemic will affect students who are not able to participate in remote learning. This might be prevalent to low-income families and countries with poor technological & network infrastructure.

E-learning is learning that utilizes electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom[76]. With this technology, teachers can continue to perform lectures and interactions with students through electronic devices. Furthermore, e-Learning allows smart learning technology and self-pacing. Smart learning is an internet of things-based technology that adapts and provides personalized support on the basis of an individual’s needs. With this, students are able to study at their own speeds and target weak points in their learning[77].

Why Is E-Learning Gaining Traction?

E-learning provides flexibility. Students are given the luxury of choosing the place and time for education to take place. A study from BestColleges shows that 52% of online students chose e-Learning because there is no requirement to attend campus-based courses[78]. Since the requirement to meet at a physical location is eliminated, students can plan according to their personal schedules.

Another factor influencing students to choose e-learning is affordability. Most of the overhead costs such as transportation and course materials, are eliminated with online education. According to the chart produced by Learning House, graduates and undergraduates believed that affordability was the most important factor in choosing an online program[79].

With the COVID-19 restrictions still in effect, the upcoming fall 2020 semester has affected school enrollment preferences. McKinsey & Company performed a survey to acquire information regarding students entering their first year of post-secondary education. Due to the fall semester likely being held remotely, the chart shows that cost and location are still the main influences for students in determining their first choice for schooling[80].

Important factors on why students choose online learning[79]
McKinsey & Company’s study on first-choice of school[80]

Problems with E-Learning

McKinsey & Company’s study on students enrolling for school.[80]

Although e-learning presents students with flexibility and self-pacing, we shouldn’t completely disregard traditional schooling. E-learning is still in its early phase and has a multitude of problems. First of all, students need to have a compatible electronic device and internet access. If a student does not have access to these, they are unable to participate in e-learning. This technology may also malfunction. Considering that e-learning requires an internet connection, a multitude of problems may occur such as services failing, websites going offline, and latency issues. In addition, if a class requires real-time lectures, not all instructors are technically savvy. There is also the problem of information storage. As most of the information will be stored on a database, learning institutions are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks [81].

Secondly, there is a lack of instructor supervision. Instructors are unable to monitor the classroom and cannot force student discussions [82]. Without being in a physical location, instructors will have more difficulty in gauging how well students comprehend course material [83]. Allocating additional time and adjusting pacing will be a predicament. Moreover, e-learning allows students to cheat more easily on examinations. Even if there is a video feed observing students, there are still ways for them to cheat [82]. Communication skills may also be underdeveloped, as students may be less inclined to participate in class discussions. Seeing that students are not physically in a classroom, there is no pressure to speak when called upon. Without face-to-face communication, students may be less effective at collaborating in group settings [82].

Lastly, e-Learning is different from traditional learning and affects students’ mindsets. Since most students have not experienced e-learning, they may be discouraged from trying it. A study from McKinsey & Company shows that 48% of students are more likely to defer enrollment than to have their first semester remotely [80].

COVID-19, the Fall 2020 Semester, and How Post-Secondary Institutions Should Address the Situation

The full effects of COVID-19 for the Fall semester are unknown. However, education institutions should continue to try their best to mitigate unforeseeable circumstances.

According to McKinsey & Company, a large proportion of students reported that COVID-19 affected their ability to attend a higher education institution. Based on their survey results: 30 percent of the survey group reported that their ability to afford to go to school was affected by the pandemic, 45 percent of the survey group had their readiness to attend strongly affected and 34 percent of the survey group had their willingness to attend strongly affected [80].

If we take the surveyed statistics into consideration, institutions should prepare for a significant decrease in revenue for Fall 2020. Another study by McKinsey & Company shows that undergraduate enrollment losses could equate up to $19 billion from just losses in tuition and fee revenues alone [80].

A point of focus would be the ability to react to the constant change in total enrollments. Constructing a command center may be a plausible remedy in mitigating revenue losses. A command center is designed to ensure optimum performance of daily operations under various circumstances [84]. McKinsey & Company suggest that constructing an enrollment command center may facilitate better collaboration within a university. This entity unites departments across an entire university and is characterized by a fast-paced environment that is dedicated to resolving bottlenecks [85].

Another approach would be to modify how lectures and courses are taught. The goal would be to ensure that students still have the ability to have adequate learning experiences [86]. With remote learning, students highly valued getting feedback, providing feedback, and obtaining responses from the instructor [87]. Universities could try restructuring courses in order for lectures to be a mix between synchronous and asynchronous course components. An online learning survey done by Simon Fraser University shows that 50 percent of students preferred a mixed learning approach, while 33 percent preferred asynchronous learning [87].

Lastly, effectively communicating expectations to students can improve their experiences with online learning [87]. With more effective communication, confusion can be kept to a minimum during remote learning semesters. According to Simon Fraser University’s online survey, 68 percent of survey respondents understood how to participate in course activities [87]. However, students had problems figuring out how to access information, understanding the grading rubric, and figuring out what should happen next in a course.

McKinsey & Company’s study on COVID-19’s effect on enrollment revenue[80]
McKinsey & Company’s details on an enrollment center[85]
SFU’s survey results on learning style[87]
SFU’s survey results on participating in class[87]


COVID-19 Apps

COVID-19 Canada statistic on cases, deaths, and count of tested people.[88].
COVID-19 Canada confirmed cases statistic[89].

The purpose of contact tracing is to slow down and prevent the spread of a disease [90]. The process involves identifying infected people and people who have been in close proximity to the infected. If a person is diagnosed with infectious symptoms, they will be asked to self-quarantine and be monitored by public health officials [90].

How do these apps work?

Most of the COVID-19 tracking apps utilize the Google and Apple joint API along with Bluetooth technology [91] .Bluetooth enables smartphones to send anonymous beacons to nearby phones that are using the same COVID-19 tracking app [91]. If the app checks a beacon with a positive test result, users will receive a notification. The google and apple joint API allows iOS and Android phones to communicate with each other through Bluetooth [91]. This is a necessity as not everyone has the same operating device on their phones [91]. There are five needs that have to be met before implementation: [92]

1. Proximity

The contact tracing app must be able to detect encounters of a given duration and within a distance of 2 meters over a rolling two-week period.

2. Location

The app needs to be able to detect interactions with COVID-19-positive individuals.

3. Ubiquity

To be useful, the technology must be easy to use and available on as many devices as possible.

4. Interoperability

The technology must be able to connect to the public health system, and be compatible to public health databases and tools used.

5. Security

The technology must have secure encryption and strong data governance.

Current Situation for Canada

As of August 13th 2020, the current confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada is 121,234[88]. Of these confirmed cases: Ontario makes up 33.3% of the total confirmed cases, Quebec makes up 50.24%, and the remaining percentage is a combination from all other provinces[89]. Fortunately, 88.71% of the total confirmed cases have made a recovery within this time frame.

Canada’s COVID-19 Apps

Picture of COVID Alert on the app store[93].

The information app has 4 main functions: providing feed updates, displaying daily statistics, allowing self-assessments, and supplying additional information resources [94].

Updates Feed: Government news and information related to COVID-19 will be uploaded in real-time.

Daily Statistics: Metrics that outline COVID-19 cases in your area.

Assessment Tool: A tool that allows one to determine whether further testing and guidance is needed from a health professional.

Resources: Sources that provide users with blood donation opportunities, local food drives, social distancing techniques to combat feeling isolated and more.

The contact tracing app uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with other phones that have the app. The app runs in the background and will exchange random codes with other users, every five minutes. Every day, the app will check a list of random codes for people who reported a diagnosis. If the user has been near one of the infected codes within the past two weeks, they will be notified [95].

What Makes Canada’s Contact Tracing App Special?

Even though it is still undergoing testing, freedom and anonymity make Canada’s contact app special. Unlike China and South Korea, this app is voluntary [96]. People are given the option to decide on whether or not to use the app. As for anonymity, the app will not disclose the identities of users nor does it track the user’s location. Information will not be stored on the app and it will never leave a person’s phone. The app doesn't store or share any personal, medical, or GPS-location data. Instead, it uses randomly generated, anonymous codes and Bluetooth signals between phones that also have the app downloaded, to keep track of the proximity and duration of a certain contact [97].

Potential Problems

Success depends on the amount of users: Since Canada’s app will be voluntary, the effectiveness will be dependent on the number of adopters. Contact tracing only works when other users have the app installed [96].

Trust: Some people may still be skeptical about the privacy aspects of the product and may be deterred from using it. In addition, some individuals have previously made a fake COVID-19 contact-tracing app disguised as the government of Canada official software. Even though most of these websites have been taken down, it has created some user resistance [98].


COVID-19 Coping Mechanisms by the Red Cross.

Employee Wellness

A recent Deloitte study found that providing remote and flexible work options were top-of-mind for 90% of surveyed employers, followed by the need to help employees address psychological stress and epidemic protection. According to a survey, mental health has dropped 12 points to 63, a score typically only seen when people are going through significant life disruptions. Prevalent mental disruptions of thought include, guilt that prevents them from protecting their own family and self-isolation from loved ones for fear of transmission can lead to suffering.

Organizational Trends

Organizations are creating and finding ways to support their employees during these unprecedented times, additionally, it is critical to address the long-term impacts of social isolation and stress management. Virtual Care is a fast-emerging wellness trend that is creating a digital safe space for individuals alike in these area[99]:

1. Making mental health an accessible priority

  • Mental illness or addiction is experience by one-in-five Canadians

2. Facilitating access to on-demand medical attention when life happens

  • Access to primary care and prescription refills
  • On-demand support to help manage chronic diseases and facilitate referrals to specialists

3. Focusing on preventive care during and beyond COVID-19‘

  • A recent survey by RBC Insurance found that 72% of working Canadians would perceive their employer in a more positive light if virtual care or telemedicine was part of the benefits package.

Leaders, today, have a duty to improve well-being stamina beyond just protection. Staff exhaustion and stress that comes from pressure to perform during the pandemic is now at an unprecedented level and could lead to invisible consequences and potentially deadly risk. Keeping staff connected to promote healthy interactions can help the loneliness of work stress and social isolation. Individuals who are chronically ill will need more support than usual. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, research found that increased social connectedness offset the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic [100]. Furthermore, future-proofing your workforce will encourage individual employees to take ownership and accountability. A corporate wellness program may include [100]:

  • Reimagining incentives for the wellness program
  • Hosting a virtual wellness fair
  • Identifying a digital wellness champion
  • Anticipating questions and providing answers
  • Helping employees set new goals


In brief, we have discussed the different technologies that have expanded and been implemented during COVID-19. Most evidently, this has led us into a new world where these new changes will remain for a while, post-pandemic. In terms of consumers, we have observed that more and more individuals are embracing digital commerce to facilitate their purchases on basic goods, even more so than before the pandemic hit.

Companies and governments are managing isolation through agile operations and automation in their work environment and around public areas for increased safety measures. Furthermore, educational institutions and the workforce move towards adapting their office etiquette and working practices to adhere to social distancing protocols. Organizations and companies must do more to support their employees in personal capacities to offset the negative effects of employee psychological stress and burnout during the pandemic. This will likely mean that many companies will see these organizational trends continue even after the pandemic. Lastly, it is no surprise that COVID-19 is a health and economic crisis that has shifted most of our norms from the pre-pandemic period. Businesses have reset and renewed their business model to adapt to the new circumstances. Governments have taken action to respond to the crisis and in the process, have positioned themselves to be proactive and more secure for the foreseeable future.


Collin Lee Gavin Zhao Jennifer Wen Jon Mckenzie Go Vivian Chen
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada


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